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Brought Forth From Above

By Arlen L. Chitwood


Appendix 2

The Neshamah

Absolutely Necessary for Life

The roots of all biblical doctrine can be found in the book of Genesis.  This is the book of beginnings; and all Scripture beyond Genesis must, after some fashion, reach back and draw from this book.


The creation of Adam from the dust of the ground, and the removal of a rib from Adam’s side, occurred on the sixth day of the restoration account in Genesis chapter one.  But the methods that God used to bring about both Adam’s creation and the formation of Eve from a portion of Adam’s body were not revealed until a subsequent summary statement in chapter two.


Most of chapter two is taken up with certain specifics concerning that which had previously occurred on the sixth day in the preceding chapter, and the account of these things is rich beyond degree in biblical study.  Chapter two of Genesis is the point where the origin of numerous biblical doctrines can be traced, doctrines that cannot be properly understood apart from this chapter.


In the account of the creation of man we are given an insight into certain truths concerning “life,” derived from God.  The means that God used in both man’s creation and the subsequent impartation of life into His new creation are given in Genesis 2:7:


And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath [the Neshamah] of life; and man became a living being. (Genesis 2:7)

First, man existed as a lifeless form, previously fashioned from the dust of the ground.  Creation in and of itself did not produce life in man.  Life was imparted only after man’s creation, a life produced by means of the breath of God.  And it is here that “life” in relation to man is first mentioned in Scripture.


And through the impartation of this life, an unchangeable principle is set forth.  God, at the very beginning, set forth the unchangeable means that He would use to impart life to the one without life, at any future point in time — physical or spiritual life.


The Hebrew word translated “breath” in Genesis 2:7 is Neshamah.  The Neshamah of God produced “life.”  The word “God” in this verse is a translation of the plural noun, Elohim, pointing to the fact that not only the Father, but also the Son and the Holy Spirit were instrumental in producing this life.  Thus, man’s life in the beginning was derived from the triune God through what is called the Neshamah.


Genesis 2:7 provides insights into things far beyond the simple fact that God created man and then imparted life to man.  This verse provides insights into man’s salvation today — both the salvation of the spirit and the salvation of the soul.


First, the impartation of life to unredeemed man, who is “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1), must follow the pattern (type) established in Genesis.  Unredeemed man, as Adam prior to the impartation of the Neshamah of God, is lifeless; and, if he is to possess life, it must be derived through the same means as life was originally imparted to Adam.

Second, once this life is imparted, it must also be continued and sustained.

In this respect, Scripture clearly reveals that the Neshamah of God is inseparably connected with life in relation to man from beginning to end.


A first-mention principle was established in Genesis 2:7, revealing that “life” — past, present, and future — must always emanate from the same source, through the same means, set forth in this verse.  God alone initially “imparts” and subsequently “continues” and “sustains” life; and this is always accomplished, in its entirety, through the Neshamah of God.

Impartation of Life to the Unsaved

Unregenerate man today comes into a right relationship with God solely through the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit on the basis of Christ’s finished work at Calvary.  Through the work of the Spirit, man passes “from death into life” (John 5:24).


The word “Spirit” in the Greek text is Pneuma, a word that also means “breath.”  It is used in the sense of “breath” in the New Testament through showing life being produced by “breathing in” or death being wrought by “breathing out.”


In Luke 8:55, life was restored to a young girl by her “spirit [breath]” returning; and in Luke 23:46, Christ terminated His life on the cross by giving “up the spirit [lit: He ‘breathed out’]” (cf. James 2:26).


The Holy Spirit is the One who generates life in lifeless man, and the expression used in both the Hebrew and Greek texts relative to this life being produced is “breathing in.”  God, through the instrumentality of the Spirit, “breathes life into” unregenerate man today.


The impartation of life to man in Genesis 2:7 though is not the original type dealing with the work of the Spirit in relation to man’s salvation.  The original type is found in the opening verses of Genesis one (vv. 2b-5), and Genesis 2:7 forms a subsequent type, providing additional details.  And this verse, providing the first mention of “life” in relation to man, must be in complete agreement with and understood in the light of that revealed in the original type.


The original type in Genesis 1:2b-4 reads:

. . . and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the watersThen God said, “Let there be light”; and there was lightAnd God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.

These verses outline the beginning of the restoration of a creation that was reduced to a state of ruin because of an act of Satan (the earth becoming a chaos because of Satan’s aspirations to be “like the most High” [Genesis 1:2a; Isaiah 14:12-14]).  And these verses, in turn, set forth in type the beginning of the restoration of a creation that was brought into a ruined state through another act of Satan.  Satan brought about Adam’s fall, through the woman, by using a similar means to the one that had previously brought about his own fall — “. . . you will be like God” (Genesis 3:1ff).


This established pattern (type) relative to the restoration of a ruined material creation relates exactly how the restoration of man — a subsequent ruined creation — must occur today.


The Spirit of God moved in chapter one of Genesis, effecting a beginning of the earth’s restoration.  And the first thing recorded immediately following the Spirit’s movement was the placement of light alongside the previously existing darkness, with a division being established between the light and the darkness.


The Spirit of God, in like manner moves today, effecting the beginning of man’s restoration (the salvation of his spirit).  And the first thing that God does for man is to place light alongside the previously existing darkness, with a division established between the light and the darkness (pertaining to a division between the spirit and the soul [Hebrews 4:12], inseparably associated with a division between the new and old natures [Galatians 4:22-31; 5:16-23]).


Note Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 4:6; 5:17:

For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation . . . .”

And Genesis 2:7, a subsequent type from a different perspective (life produced in that which was lifeless), is an account portraying additional details relating to the same truth.  The Spirit of God — the Neshamah — brought order out of chaos in Genesis chapter one; the Spirit of God — the Neshamah — produced life in Genesis chapter two; and the Spirit of God — the Neshamah — brings order out of chaos, producing life in unregenerate man today.


“Life” produced in unregenerate man has to do with a movement of the Spirit, connected with an impartation of breath (the Neshamah), based on the finished work of the Son at Calvary.  This allows light to come into existence where only darkness had previously existed, producing a division between man’s redeemed spirit and his unredeemed soul.

Impartation of Life to the Saved

Once life has been generated, that life must then be continued and sustained.  Life is generated through “breathing in” (initial work of the Spirit), retained through the “breath remaining” (indwelling work of the Spirit), and sustained through a “continued breathing in” (a continued work of the Spirit).


Sustenance for life, a “continued breathing in,” is what is involved in 2 Timothy 3:16.  This verse, studied in the light of Genesis 2:7, is the key that will unlock the door concerning the Neshamah of God in relation to saved man.  In the preceding respect, this verse both demonstrates the power of the Word of God and reveals the reason Christians are commanded to “receive the implanted Word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21).

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16, 17, NIV)

The word “God-breathed” in 2 Timothy 3:16 is a translation of the compound Greek word Theopneustos, which is simply the word for “God” (Theos) and the word for “breath,” or “Spirit” (Pneuma) added.  Thus, the translation “God-breathed” is not only a very literal translation, but, in the light of Genesis 2:7, it is the best of all possible translations.


“The Word of God” is, thus, here identified with the Neshamah of God.  The Word of God was given through the instrumentality of the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21), and is the element that the indwelling Holy Spirit uses to sustain the life that He Himself originally imparted and presently continues.  Thus, the Neshamah of God refers to both the Spirit and the Word.  “Life” emanates from both (2 Corinthians 3:6; Hebrews 4:12; James 1:21; 2:26), and the relationship existing between both prohibits any separation.


The Word of God, because of its very origin and nature, is the only thing that the Holy Spirit, who gave the Word, can use to effect man’s spiritual growth toward maturity.


The Neshamah of God (the Holy Spirit), who imparted life, uses the Neshamah of God (the living, implanted Word, which He moved men to pen) to sustain this life.  And, through this sustenance, a person is made “wise unto salvation” (2 Timothy 3:15).


And this continuing work of the Spirit is something seen in the remaining five days of God’s restorative work in Genesis chapter one.  God’s work on the first day relates to the impartation of life (the salvation of the spirit), His work on the remaining five days relates to sustaining that life (growth into maturity, the salvation of the soul), and this is all with a view to the seventh day of rest (the Messianic Era).